Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, October 11, 2017

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Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, October 11, 2017

This is a free weekly news & information update from the Courage Kenny Handiham Program, serving people with disabilities in Amateur Radio since 1967. 

Our contact information is at the end.

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Welcome to Handiham World.

In this edition: 

  • A note from the coordinator

  • DMR Radio Introduction

  • Yaesu System Fusion Overview

  • Early Handiham Program History, Part 2

  • Down memory lane…

  • Check into our nets!

  • ...And more!

A note from the coordinator...

A phone call on Monday reminded me of this article from the Summer 1985 issue of Handiham World. Tony Tretter, K0KVO, realized the importance of one-on-one help and encouragement for Handiham Program students and members to improve their success rate on license exams and their operating skills after they obtained their license. It takes a lot of work to offer individual assistance, but if many people reach out to help those in their area, the work load would be manageable.

Join the Fire Brigade

By Tony Tretter, W0KVO

If my house were on fire and I only had one bucket of water, what would I do? I reckon I’d throw my one bucket of water on the fire and hope that there were a hundred more people with a bucket of water to throw on the fire. If it turned out that there was enough water, the fire would be put out in short order.

This example is much like the Handiham Program. The fire represents the needs of students and inexperienced members. If each person would do something, no matter how small or insignificant it appears on the surface, we’d have a very good chance of meeting all the needs of the Program.

What was the phone call that made me think of this article? A Handiham member called to say that she had finally passed the General Class license test after four attempts. What was the difference this time? The member had the assistance of a local ham who was able to provide some additional tutoring, enabling her to thoroughly grasp the material and be ready to pass the license exam. That individual help made the difference for her. Additionally, the VE team that conducted the exam session was familiar with the accommodations that were needed for this student and provided them in an appropriate manner.

The Handiham Program is looking for additional volunteers and clubs who would like to help members as they work toward their licenses and develop their on-air operating skills. For individuals who want to volunteer with the Handiham Program, you will have to complete a volunteer application and background check. Currently, no reputable organization will accept volunteers who have not been properly vetted. It is important for the protection of volunteers, members, and the Handiham Program.

If you want to volunteer, please send me an email at the address below telling me a little about your amateur radio experience and how you feel you could help. I will ask Nancy to send you a basic application to get you started in the volunteer paperwork process. If your club is interested in being a Handiham Affiliate, please let us know. I will send out information for your club to consider.

In the E-Letter this week there are links to a couple of videos that provide an introduction to some popular digital modes. The first is about DMR, and the seconds covers System Fusion. We continue reprinting a series of articles covering the early history of the Handiham Program. Finally, there is an article from a 2013 issue of Handiham World in Down Memory Lane that reminds us of the importance of safety in amateur radio.

Do you have a story to share about your ham radio related activities? Please send your articles and stories via email to Lucinda.Moody@allina.com or by calling me at 612-775-2290.

DMR Radio Introduction

DMR stands for Digital Mobile Radio. DMR, also called Mototrbo, is a relatively new digital system, developed by Motorola, that radio amateurs (hams) use to communicate with each other around the world by using repeaters situated locally and globally. Being digital the voice quality is crystal clear no matter where the other party is situated in the world. https://youtu.be/gpm2agmlvFI

Yaesu Fusion Overview

This is a presentation originally delivered to a couple amateur radio clubs in Northern Chicagoland. This introduction to System Fusion helps explain this great new digital voice mode to you. https://youtu.be/E81KafJT_zI

Early Handiham Program History, Part 2

by Sr. Alverna O’Laughlin

Sr. Alverna O’Laughlin

(Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of articles on the early history of the Handiham Program. This was initially published in the Summer 1981 issue of Handiham World. Sr. Alverna was the educational coordinator of the Courage Handiham Program and had been actively involved in amateur radio for people with disabilities for years.)

The Great Handiham Car/Bus Caravan left for the National ARRL Convention in Des Moines, Iowa at 7:10 a.m., Friday, June 20, 1969. Driver of the bus was Wes McAnally (now deceased), one of the very first Handiham members. Ned Carman, founder of the Program, drove the new air-conditioned Rambler Ambassador loaned to us by a Rochester car dealer, Don Dyckman. Don David Taylor, Don Johnson, and Jean Heikkila (now deceased) were elected to ride in the car. (Jean needed the reclining seat because of her disability.)

Ten-meter walkie-talkies were in each vehicle so we could communicate whenever necessary. A U-Haul trailer, loaned to us by Jim and Stan’s Texaco in Rochester, was pulled behind the Ambassador, providing ample room for things like wheelchairs, baggage, and Val’s violin. Others in the caravan were Sr. Cletus (now Mary Fiero), Jim Mowery, Woody Anderson (now deceased), Mary Amdahl, Leona Kroll, Eddy Thorson, Eve and Jean Cheney, Adolph and Helen Smith, Valerie Jordahl, Steve Braverman, Brian Altman, Alta Mitchell, Debbie Erdman (now deceased), Ott Miller (now deceased), Francis Brennan (now deceased), Karl Koppelman, Ron Frisby, Sr. Clara Marie, Sr. Judith, Sr. Berard (now Rose Schieffert), Sr. Jude, Marlene Tevedahl, Janet Bailey, Dick Nelson, and myself.

We had a lovely room at the convention which had been procured for our use by Minnesota Section Communication Manager, Larry Shima. The Handiham display at the Convention was adorned beautifully with six large promotional posters painted by Don David Taylor which explained the steps (in pictures) of how a Handiham member gets his amateur ticket. The captions over the posters read, “What will you do to meet the Challenge?” From the comments of the guests who stopped by, we had the nicest booth there. The thing that makes the posters really special is that Don has quadriplegia, and movement is difficult for him. After the convention, these posters were preserved and are now on display at Camp Courage in the Ham Radio Room there.

Some of the Handiham members who came to the convention and helped staff the Handiham room but were not in our bus/car group were Dot Yeager (no deceased), Lowell Yeager, Karol Yeager, Helen Swanson (now deceased), Fern Koskovich (now deceased), Ward and Elma Jensen, Dave Young, Joe and Marie Eggers, Jim Marshall, Jack Maus, Sr. Lauren, Charles Compton, Larry Shima, and Joe Klawitter.

Leave it to Eddy Thorson, N0YL, for her thoughtfulness. Eddy, our first real documented Handiham student, sent cards to all of the Handiham members who were unable to make the trip to the convention. Sr. Cletus made cards with the amateur calls of all the members of the Handiham Program on them. These were on display at the booth—a real mixer and conversation piece. Two distinguished guests who visited our Handiham Program booth were Sen. Barry Goldwater and Iowa’s Gov. Robert Ray.

It was quite a sight to see about twenty Handiham members and their assistants trek off to Bishop’s Restaurant for their evening meal after the Handiham display room closed in late afternoon. A ramped curb made mobility for the wheelchairs quite easy. Marlene Tevedahl was hostess to a small group at a swanky place called Babe’s. When our group of six arrived, it created quite a stir, and we were shoved ahead of a long waiting line in spite of our lack of reservations. Two couples took to a booth just to let us have their tables.

At the banquet on Sunday, there was little doubt in our minds that the conventioneers were aware of the Handiham Program presence. In an effort to get tables for seating, Ned questioned the two reserved tables in the front row. The host was audibly perturbed, but he knew the Handiham members needed seating, and there were no other places left. A lady from Arkansas, a little annoyed when she found out we were getting the front row reserved tables, said, “I know they need a place…but in the sun?”

When it was all over, the whole hotel was bedlam! Have you ever tried to get an elevator when everyone else wants one too? As the buses were being loaded, the Yeagers, the Mauses, and Sr. Judith stripped the display room and boxed things up. Ned and Ron loaded luggage and wheelchairs onto the bus for our return trip. About that time, we were blessed with a light rain which became increasingly heavy. Two persons in wheelchairs were loaded onto the bus and then the lift broke. Everyone else had to be carried onto the bus. What a relief when everyone was finally aboard. The lift door would not close, however, and boxes had to be stuffed in the door to keep the rain out. The Sunshine Bus had a speed limiter set at 50 miles per hour. Wet, tired, and laughing, the group arrived at Assisi Heights at 8:30 p.m.

There was still that long trip to Camp. About fifteen miles south of Rochester, I knew something needed to be done about getting relief for our bus driver, so I stepped on the gas of the Ambassador and arrived in Rochester early. I called every person I could think of trying to get a replacement with a bus driver’s license. John Bush (now deceased), a jovial fellow who was engineer at Assisi Heights, drove the bus to Minneapolis, where he waited with the bus until Ned returned from Camp Courage to pick him up. They finally returned to Rochester at 6:30 Monday morning. What a weekend!

Permit me to quote some of the persons who attended the ARRL convention. Eddy Thorson—“unfortunately the most interesting memories for me won’t fit in a history! A real shame…” Jane Bailey—“That was my first trip without my family. I felt apprehensive. I guess Ned sensed my uneasiness, so he left his seat and came and sat next to me. With him there, I felt relaxed.” Alta Mitchell—“Some had never been away from the security of their own family; some depended on others for assistance; and others’ lives depended on their physical care; to these persons, it was a challenge to be met with Courage. Courage they did have!” Ned Carman wrote later, “What wonderful people our Handiham members and assistants are!”

(Sr. Alverna’s account of the early years of the Handiham Program will continue in the next issue of Handiham World.)

Down memory lane...

In honor of the celebration of 50 years of the Handiham Program, here is an article from the August 21, 2013 issue of Handiham World that features former Program Coordinator, Pat Tice.

A very scared Pat Tice in the arms of a not so real alligator!

Hey, Pat - Did you ever do something really stupid while practicing the art and science of ham radio?

Funny you should ask.

The fact that I can type this story out on a keyboard is due only to the sheer luck of good timing. In my early days as a young and clueless guy in my 20's, I had rented a house with a yard and put up a used tower to support my 2-element Gotham quad antenna. The antenna had been on a tower at my parents' house, and I had managed to disassemble it and get it down to the new location. As most of us know, when you have just started out on your own, you have a very tight budget, and at that time I felt pretty lucky to be able to have a multiband transceiver and an antenna. At that stage of life there is no alternative but to watch every penny. I'd built the radio, a Heath HW-101, from a kit. The Gotham quad was just plain downright cheap, made with the lightest, cheapest aluminum alloy, wooden dowels, and cheesy plastic standoffs for the thin single-conductor aluminum wire elements. It covered 10, 15, and 20 meters, though—three bands that I liked using almost every day. (This was pre-internet, of course.)

It was not practical to transport a tower, so I set about finding a used one and settled on a well-used TV tower with a crank-up section. Not only would it be easy to mount the tower next to the house so I could stabilize it without pouring a big concrete pad, but it would also allow me to mount the antenna on the top with a TV rotor and do any tuning that might be necessary while the tower was telescoped down and the antenna was reachable from the roof of the house. The tower was pretty old, and it needed a new steel cable. Not having any money to spare, I replaced the old cable with steel guy wire. It worked, and the beam performed beautifully since the house was on a small hill, and it was a clear shot from the top of the tower to lots of DX locations.

One day I decided to climb up on the roof for something or other - maybe to tighten a guy wire or some other minor maintenance. That job completed successfully, I climbed back down the tower and stepped off into the back yard. It was exactly at that point—and I mean EXACTLY—that the steel guy wire I'd used in the antenna crank-up snapped, and the top section came telescoping down through the outer base section like a guillotine that would have sheared off my fingers and toes had I been on the tower only a few seconds longer!

Where do you even start when you list all of the stupid things that led up to that near-disaster? A well-worn used tower? I should have known it was never going to be safe for climbing. Even so, it should have been locked with a steel bar through the supports so that it could not collapse if the steel cable broke or the ratchet on the winch failed. The fact that I still have fingers to type right now is due only to lucky timing. Now, with over four decades of ham radio behind me, I definitely pay more attention to safety.

Let's face it—there are few leisure activities that offer the breadth and scope of ham radio. You can build your own equipment, design and install your own antennas, communicate while driving, biking, flying, walking, or boating, and serve your community as a public service communications volunteer. You can operate from unusual and far-flung locations. You can be competitive or just make friends. It's a big tent.

Risk and Amateur Radio

But with the amazing galaxy of activities with ham radio, there are also risks.

    We are always working with electricity, which can injure or kill.

    Putting up antennas and supporting structures is inherently risky; falls, electrocution, injuries from power tools—all are possibilities when you are working with projects like these.

    Public service can be dangerous, too. As Rick Palm, K1CE, reminds us in the ARES E-Letter this week, there is a "Hams at Hazard" article in the September 2013 QST, showing a monument to amateur radio operators who died in service to their communities while performing public service communications. Weather spotters deploying to observation points during a weather emergency carry risk. Disaster scenes can serve up hazardous chemicals, dangerous fires and explosions, biohazards, and more.

    Less often considered as a ham radio hazard is distracted driving, but it is real and ever-present any time you set aside your main task—driving the car—for some other task that takes your eyes off the road or saps too much brain power so that you cannot react quickly to the world outside your vehicle. My old Elmer once admitted to me that when he got into an interesting exchange on a repeater while driving, he inevitably failed to watch his speed and had gotten several citations. He decided on his own that he had to leave the microphone alone and concentrate on driving but could use the radio when his wife took over as driver. He made a choice that allowed him to still get on the air while staying safe. While most of us have no problem using a mobile radio, each of us does have to know our capabilities. If you, as my Elmer did, find your mind wandering instead of concentrating on driving, then you should back off on mobile operating while you drive. When I was learning to fly, my instructor told me that my first job was always to fly the plane. The radio could wait. Fly the plane! That is good advice no matter what kind of vehicle you are piloting, whether on land, water, or in the air.


Yes, complacency—getting so familiar and comfortable with doing something that we tend to let our attention wander and our guard down when it comes to following all the safety rules. That's one of the most dangerous states of mind to be in when engaging in any activity that involves some level of risk. How many times have you been warned about checking for overhead wires when putting up antennas? It seems elementary, but when complacency sets in, you can forget. After all, you have put up many antennas in the past, and you know how to do it, right? And still we read about amateur radio operators who get electrocuted because they didn't stick to the rules. It's easy to think to yourself that a quick trip up the tower is no big deal, but it can turn into one if you slip or have a medical emergency, and you have no one spotting for you to call for help. You may get so comfortable and confident in your driving skills that you think nothing of taking your eyes off the road to enter a repeater frequency and sub-audible tone into your radio—and that's exactly the prescription for a rear-end collision with the vehicle in front of you.

One of the worst, most tragic cases of complacency I know about was what happened to a colleague and friend who was our range officer when I was doing police work. He was all about safety on the firing range, and I always felt confident at target practice. One day he was cleaning his weapon at home when there was some distraction—a doorbell or phone call; I don't remember which, but he got up to take care of it, and in that short instant, because he was so familiar with firearms and used them every day, he forgot about safety—and one of his twin toddlers picked up the gun and shot the other one dead. Some seasoned amateurs hefted an antenna into a power line at a scout camp with fatal results. Complacency kills—and strikes when you least expect it, when you are feeling so comfortable with what you are doing that you forget the rules.

For me, ham radio has been an enjoyable part of both my play and working lives. But older is wiser, so I try harder to follow the rules. That doesn't mean I'll never slip up, but hopefully my mistakes will be minor ones, caught early on by always following all of the safety rules, even if it means taking a bit more time to complete a project or arranging for someone to stop by to spot for me or help me out.

"Safety first"—It’s not just a cute phrase. You have to really think about it.

Patrick Tice, WA0TDA

What are you waiting for? Check into our Handiham nets... Everyone is welcome! 

How to find the Handiham Net: 

  • The Handiham EchoLink conference is 494492.  Connect via your iPhone, Android phone, PC, or on a connected simplex node or repeater system in your area.

  • The Handiham Net will be on the air daily. If there is no net control station on any scheduled net day, we will have a roundtable on the air get-together.  

    Cartoon multicolored stickman family holding hands, one wheelchair user among them.

    Our daily Echolink net continues to operate for anyone and everyone who wishes to participate at 11:00 hours CDT (Noon Eastern and 09:00 Pacific), as well as Wednesday evenings at 19:00 hours CDT (7 PM).  If you calculate GMT, the time difference is that GMT is five hours ahead of Minnesota time during the summer.

    Doug, N6NFF, poses a trivia question in the first half of the Wednesday evening session, so check in early if you want to take a guess. The answer to the trivia question is generally given shortly after the half-hour mark. A big THANK YOU to all of our net control stations and to James, KD0AES, for his work with the Handiham Radio Club Net. James is stepping down, and Michael, KE7VI, is returning to the position of Handiham Radio Club Net Manager.


  • You can pay your Handiham dues and certain other program fees on line. Simply follow the link to our secure payment site, then enter your information and submit the payment. 

    • Handiham annual membership dues are $12.00.  The lifetime membership rate is $120.00.

    • If you want to donate to the Handiham Program, please use our donation website.  The instructions are at the following link:

How to contact us

There are several ways to contact us.

Postal Mail:

Courage Kenny Handiham Program
3915 Golden Valley Road MR#78446
Golden Valley, MN 55422


Preferred telephone: 1-612-775-2291
Toll-Free telephone: 1-866-HANDIHAM (1-866-426-3442)

Note: Mondays through Thursdays between 9:00 AM and 2:00 PM United States Central Time are the best times to contact us.

You may also call Handiham Program Coordinator Lucinda Moody, AB8WF, at: 612-775-2290.

73, and I hope to hear you on the air soon! 

For Handiham World, this is Lucinda Moody, AB8WF

The weekly e-letter is a compilation of software tips, operating information, and Handiham news. It is published on Wednesdays, and is available to everyone free of charge. Please email Nancy.Meydell@allina.com  for changes of address, unsubscribes, etc. Include your old email address and your new address.

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